Should You Replace Or Flush Your A/C Condenser

Should You Replace Or Flush Your A/C Condenser?

When maintaining the AC system of their vehicles, one question that owners will eventually encounter is whether or not the dirty A/C condenser should be flushed or replaced. The choice can be a difficult one, since it is dependent on the vehicle, contaminants which are present and the type of condenser it uses.

What Are Condensers?

A condenser is essentially a trash collector. Debris which is emitted by the compressor will go directly into it. Since the condenser is situated in the lower area, the oil and debris will collect naturally in it, but will not remain. Instead, a refrigerant flow will capture the debris and transport it to the expansion valve, compressor or orifice tube. Eventually, this debris may clog up these units, producing a blockage which causes cooling loss.

These blockages can also disrupt the circulation, which causes the compressor to starve due to a lack of lubrication. When a condenser becomes dirty, most experts will recommend simply replacing it. However, a replacement can be expensive, especially in newer automobiles that utilize a condenser or radiating cooling module. The only affordable alternative is condenser cleaning through the usage of a flushing chemical that has been approved and which can eliminate the majority of the contaminants.

Risks Of Using Flushing Chemicals

There are risks that come with using flushing chemicals. Although they save money, the compressor may fail should the chemicals not thoroughly remove the condenser gunk. Additionally, problems may occur with the expansion valve and orifice tube, namely a blockage.

Furthermore, numerous compressor manufacturers won’t recognize the warranty when the compressor fails as a result of either insufficient flushing or recontamination. In other words, when flushing the condenser should you fail to thoroughly clean it, or you use a product that has not been approved and the compressor malfunctions, then most manufacturers won’t honor the warranty.

Another thing to remember about flushing is that it uses the most direct path. In a condenser that is serpentine style, the refrigerant can only follow a single path, which means that the chemical will travel along the identical path from entrance to exit. In a condenser that uses parallel flow, the flush won’t necessarily flow through the tubes should they become blocked completely or partially. As such attempting to flush parallel condensers is meaningless and will result in failure.

How To Prevent Residual Debris From Causing Problems

One of the best ways to prevent residual debris from entering a system and creating problems is through the usage of inline filters. These can be installed near a liquid line past the condenser so that it can trap debris and prevent trouble. These filter screens may also be installed near the suction hose by a compressor inlet so that debris can be trapped prior to getting inside the compressor.  It is essential to perform flushing in such a way where the majority of contaminants are removed, otherwise, the inline filter can become clogged which will cause the same problems as a clogged valve or orifice tube.